Jump to Main Content
USA flagAn Official Website of the United States Government
Archive

Blogs.Archive

Register

Cloud Computing – What Can It Do for Your Small Business?

Comment Count:
26

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

Cloud Computing – What Can It Do for Your Small Business?

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: December 8, 2011 Updated: March 2, 2012

Cloud computing is surely the buzz technology for the early 21st century. Yet, as red hot as it seems, confusion remains about what it is and what benefits it brings, as well as how secure it is for sharing and storing business information.

Cloud computing may seem like a new technology, but in truth, we’ve all used cloud computing in some way, shape or form for years. Take Facebook, for example; this social sharing site stores your comments, photos, videos and so on right up there in the cloud. Gmail, Picasa, Flickr, and others all rely on the cloud.

These are all applications we use freely each day.  But cloud computing offers so much more and may transform the way small businesses operate by saving money, enhancing uptime, and (that ultimate marketing cliché) increasing productivity.

Cloud Computing in a Nutshell

Without going into the nitty gritty of how cloud computing works, it’s easier to start from the standpoint of what it enables.

Imagine being able to log onto a website and access all the tools and programs that your employees need to do their jobs without having to invest in lots of standalone software licenses? What if you could access all your office productivity tools (email, calendar, word processing, databases, invoicing, CRM, intranet, etc.) from any location or device? What’s more, all the software management and trouble-shooting can be done by the cloud service provider, freeing up your IT resources.  

Cloud computing makes this possible, and solutions from cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft, and Oracle are building build on this technology to deliver transparent services to the public, including hardware and network components.

How Cloud Services Can Help Your Small Business

These benefits are mouth-watering in productivity sense, and the cost savings are tremendous. In fact, the CDW Cloud Computing Tracking Poll found that 76 percent of the small businesses implementing or maintaining cloud computing have successfully reduced the cost of applications by moving them to the cloud. This is because the initial capital investment and the ongoing support infrastructure (your IT headcount) needed to install and run hardware and software is done by the cloud service provider.

Another cost-saving benefit is that you only pay for the “seats” that you need on a per month basis. If you bring on new employees you can easily scale up without having to invest in new licenses. Furthermore, if you tend to use software in spikes, for example when you run monthly invoices, you pay only for your usage – a far more cost-effective model than paying a premium for a piece of software that sits idle for 75 percent of the time.

What Business Tools Should You Move to the Cloud?

As with all business investments, develop a plan to determine what cloud computing can do for your business and how to take advantage of it. As you think about implementing cloud computing, consider the following:

  • How do you spend your IT budget? Is there a cloud service that can take the pressure off and help you reduce costs? Assess your expenses, including support and management costs of your most widely used applications, and research the potential savings the cloud can bring.
  • Got storage? One of the most common ways small businesses are saving is through cloud-based data storage and backup. This is a cumbersome and costly chore for small businesses, but one you can’t afford to do without. Outsourcing data storage can be done for less than $30 per month depending on your storage needs. Providers are popping up all the time, but cloud storage tools include SugarSync, Dropbox, and Box.net, each of which offers business services.
  • Polish up your email act – Cloud email is another area in which small businesses can realize efficiencies and enhanced features. Tools such as Microsoft Office 365 and Gmail for Business not only take the hassle and expense of maintaining your own email server or disparate systems, they include great add-on features that let you access mail from any device, synchronize calendars, and enjoy email backup, security and availability.    
  • Other office tools – Another tool the cloud has transformed is invoicing (integrated time sheets, sales data, and automatic billing). Marketing also gets a lot easier thanks to cloud-based platforms that revolutionize how small businesses handle email broadcasts, social media, virtual events, and more.
  • Security – Because cloud services are delivered over the Internet and hosted on servers that essentially are shared by subscribers of the service, security is a top concern for anyone thinking of using cloud business tools. Some things you can do to alleviate security risks include encrypting data, assessing the security controls your provider has in place (such as firewall controls), and match them.

Are you using or thinking of using cloud tools to save money or improve productivity? Share your comments below or start a discussion on the SBA.gov Discussion Boards.

Related Resources

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Cloud computing is a time proficient method for small businesses to achieve IT. By cloud technologies, you can retain way of what is happening with your company from anyplace, at any time. You can hold virtual conferences, and handle distant workers. Small businesses are gradually turning to outsourcing to enlarge their business procedures, and retain their prices down.
I think these new technologies enable business and people to make better things, to make them faster and better. We all benefit from these technologies whether they are small and large. Some Articles I would like to share as well: http://www.micronobal.com/blog/2014/5/31/the-technology-of-tomorrow-not-the-future-briefing http://www.micronobal.com/blog/2014/5/29/cloudservicesbasics-article http://www.micronobal.com/blog/2014/6/8/why-migrate-to-a-cloud-service-today-business-information-technology
Google cloud storage offers 4500TB of space with the potential to get more it all works with the compute engine that I am running. Check out the Google cloud platform if you need more information. source http://www.onlinebackupmag.com
Even the average person uses cloud technology although unknowingly like smart phones, IPads and other tablets. It is going to revolutionize the way we communicate and will have a great impact to our lives whether we like it or not
Cloud computing has lots of potential, but I am a little leery of it for security reasons.
Thanks for providing great article regarding cloud computing.For small business cloud computing i think would be more beneficial.Though here all the sets of resources,storage,updates come in one place as a cloud.
cloud computing technology trend has many advantages over many growing IT technologies.Cloud service is very much popular among the hosting providing companies as it provides much cloud storage,cloud computing best practices.
Hey Caron very nice thought on best cloud computing.How it can be utilized & benefited in small business units that is well described in this section. For more info do visit This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
I have a business that sells telephone systems directly to the public for DIY installations to save them money. One of the best things we did to save ourselves money was to get rid of the SBS server and go cloud with Office 365. I used google cloud for a while, but it wasn't compatible with MS office and like it or not, bill gates's stuff has a hold. both google apps and Microsoft office 365 have free trials, but I like 365 more for the full subscription to MS Office it includes the office software so when my Internet goes out I can still work. They both have free or almost free options for non profits
I know that cloud computing helps you save money because the software can be hosted elsewhere but you hear about hackers stealing credit cards and email addresses. What if a hacker takes one of the networks down?

Pages

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!